Rushden & Diamonds 1 Barrow 1

 

Rushden & Diamonds fought back for a 1-1 draw with a Lee Phillips goal in the second half levelling after the visitors had held a half-time lead.

Manager Hill selected the same side that had put four goals past Altrincham last weekend, with Curtis Woodhouse and Lee Phillips returning to the bench.

Barrow dominated the early stages of the game and went ahead on 10 minutes when slick interchanging down the left between Carlos Logan, Marc Boyd and Paul Brown saw a low cross from Boyd turned into the net by Jason Walker.

Barrow had a further chance when Luke Joyce won the ball off Michael Corcoran and reached the byline unchallenged, but Chris Hope managed to scramble the low cross away.

The one Diamonds threat in the first quarter when Gareth Jelleyman was able to get in a left-wing cross, which Lee Tomlin flicked on to Simon Brown, but the striker could only put the ball tamely wide.

The Diamonds played the first quarter with Lee Tomlin on the left and Yannick Bolasie on the right, the opposite combination to that which appeared so dangerous the previous weekend, and indeed they started to look dangerous for the first time in the game mid-way through the half when those roles were reversed.

On the half-hour Rob Wolleaston was able to win the ball in midfield and run at the defence and saw his shot deflected wide.

Two minutes later Michael Corcoran was able to break through midfield after winning the ball on the half-way line, and his shot was saved low to the right of the goal by the impressive Alan Martin. The resultant corner saw Martin called into action to make an even better save from a Chris Hope header.

The visitors had one final chance of the half, when a David Brown hand-ball went unpunished and the ball was fed to Paul Brown who again was able to reach the byline down the Barrow left, and hit and dangerous cross that was cleared after David Brown and Walker appeared to get in each other’s way,

As half time approached Chris Hope saw a looping header go just over the bar from a corner, and then on the stroke of half-time Lee Tomlin won the ball on the right edge of the area, beat the first man, and then unselfishly set the ball up for Michael Rankine, but his shot was disappointingly wide of the left hand post.

Half-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 0 Barrow 1

The Diamonds had clearly made some adjustments at half-time, including the decision that Bolasie is at his best down the left, and it was this approach that immediately promised the equalising goal. Bolasie showed his abilities in terms of ball control and speedy runs, but clearly there is still work to do on his finishing as he had several wayward shots into the AirWair stand during the half.

Bolasie was also starting a number of moves as both he and Tomlin straying inside to support the central midfielders who were struggling to have an impact. A Bolasie flick found Michael Rankine on the edge of the box, and he showed great vision to spread the ball to Lee Tomlin who forced a corner off Carlos Logan. The corner saw a Michael Corcoran header blocked, but the ball fell to Chris Hope on the edge of the area, whose well hit shot was well saved by the visitors’ Man of the Match Alan Martin.

It was the introduction of substitute Lee Phillips with half an hour to go, for the struggling Simon Brown, that increased the goal threat – and almost straight away he had an impact, winning a free-kick on the right, and then getting in a near post header, from the Tomlin kick, that was well saved by Martin.

A couple of minutes later Phillips was again unlucky as he saw his header from a Tomlin corner go flashing across goal.

The introduction of Phillips also seemed to unsettle the visitors defence, and allowed Burgess and Wolleaston to start getting more involved in the action, with Wolleaston making an impressive run and seeing his deflected shot saved by Martin, and then setting up Bolasie for one of his shots that gave the ball boys in the AirWair stand some exercise.

On 66 minutes Gareth Jelleyman took a knock as he was challenged by Matt Henney, and he limped off to be replaced by Marcus Kelly, who was playing in his third unfamiliar position in the past seven days – this time left back.

The visitors did make the odd raid into the Diamonds half, and Dale Roberts had to be on his toes to save from David Brown.

Despite playing at left back, Marcus Kelly was still prepared to go forwards, and he combined with Andy Burgess to set off on a run past the right back that was as good as those seen when he first burst into the first team, and his excellent cross was headed home by Lee Phillips for the equalising goal.

The Diamonds looked the most likely to go on to score the winner, but clear-cut chances were rather rare in the last 15 minutes – in fact the visitors may have had the best opportunity when Lee Tomlin gave the ball away in central midfield, and Matt Henney saw his attempt saved by Roberts.

There was still time for Bolasie to impress with his power and pace, but also for him to test the strength of the seats behind the goal with another wayward shot.

Although this would have been a game the Diamonds hoped to win, to have fought back for a point was credit to the renewed commitment and team spirit, and they will travel to Woking on Tuesday night in confident mood.

Full-Time : Rushden & Diamonds 1 Barrow 1

Teams : Rushden & Diamonds: Dale Roberts, Curtis Osano, Gareth Jelleyman, Chris Hope, Michael Corcoran, Lee Tomlin, Rob Wolleaston, Andy Burgess (Capt), Yannick Bolasie, Michael Rankine, Simon Brown .

Subs : Lee Phillips (for Brown 60), Marcus Kelly (for Jelleyman 67), Sam Smith (for Rankine 86)

Subs Not Used: Curtis Woodhouse, Clayton Fortune

Barrow : Alan Martin, Mike Pearson, Paul Jones (Capt), Steve McNulty, Carlos Logan, Matt Henney, Luke Joyce, Marc Boyd, Paul Brown, Jason Walker, David Brown

Subs: Nick Rogan (for D Brown 79), Paul Tait (for Walker 88)

Subs Not Used: Natt Kerr, Tim Deasy, Darren Sheridan

Goals : Walker (10), Phillips (71)

Yellow Cards : Walker, Pearson, Corcoran

Referee : M Heywood

Attendance : 1120 (away 121)

Man of the Match : Curtis Osano (as decided by the press box)

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